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What is human trafficking? Is it biblical?

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The official definition of human trafficking is:

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by the threat or use of force, fraud, deception, or coercion, or the giving or receiving of unlawful payments for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.

Some of these terms are ambiguous, while several denote actions that are distinctly unbiblical. It is not unbiblical to recruit, transport, transfer, harbor, or receive a person for legitimate work. However, the manner and purpose of such actions in human trafficking are clearly unbiblical.

Threat; use of force: It is not unbiblical for a parent to tell her children to eat their peas or they get no dessert. It is unbiblical to tell someone if she does not perform a task, you will harm her or her family.

Fraud; deception: The Bible clearly states that we should be fair in all our transactions (Proverbs 20:23). We are not to cheat the needy (Psalm 82:3). And "do not lie" is one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16).

Coercion: Coercion is impelling someone by the use of pressure, threats, intimidation, and control. Exodus 21 shows that injury to an indentured servant calls for the same punishment as injury to a freeman.

Giving or receiving of unlawful payments: If it is against the law, the Bible says don't do it (Romans 13:1-7). If the law forbids a particular business scheme, it is sin.

Sexual exploitation: The leading form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation. It is sin to have sex outside of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2). It is sin to rape anyone (Deuteronomy 22:25-27). There is nothing about prostitution that is biblical, but sex trafficking is akin to rape.

Forced labor: Forced labor is not unbiblical if it is the government that is doing the forcing. It was lawful for Israel to take war prisoners and set them to work in fields and building projects (Deuteronomy 20:10-11). In Matthew 5:41, Jesus spoke about the law that said a Roman soldier could commandeer a civilian to transport a load for one mile. Jesus did not speak against this "labor tax." What is sin is to refuse to pay for the labor (1 Timothy 5:18). Those caught in labor trafficking are often given food and shelter, but the Bible condemns labor without appropriate pay.

Kidnapping: Human trafficking is basically kidnapping with chattel slavery. Most of the slavery spoken of in the Old Testament was indentured servitude, wherein a person could sell their labor for seven years in order to fulfill a debt. Chattel slavery is the ownership of a person. It is kidnapping, which is severely condemned by the Bible. Exodus 21:16 says, "Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death." This covers the first part of the definition: recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt.

Human trafficking is absolutely unbiblical, and Bible-believing Christians are working to end it. Christ-followers should follow Jesus in proclaiming liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners (Isaiah 61:1-3). We should not propagate human trafficking either by taking advantage of unfairly priced goods or turning a blind eye and an unsympathetic heart to those caught in it.

For more, see the Blogos series that starts here:

Related Truth:

Does the Bible allow for slavery?

How does God view illegal immigration?

What is a Christian response to illegal aliens/illegal immigrants?

Does God want Christians to establish the kingdom and force people to obey God's laws?

Is restitution a biblical mandate?

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